Posts Tagged ‘Ovid’


Problem with exporting search results from Ovid

In Information industry,Website reviews on August 6, 2010 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , ,

Just a quick warning that there is currently a problem with the new OvidSP platform when you try and export/download results using the .txt format. Unfortunately it does not tell you there is a problem – everything seems just dandy in fact – but when you look closely you might be missing a handful of records. Quite worrying, if you’re doing a systematic review, and dealing with many hundreds of records. You might miss the key study and you’d never know it…

When I noticed this was happening I asked Ovid what was going on. They confirmed there was a known problem. However, they did not apologise or acknowledge in any way that it might be an inconvenience. Thanks guys, good customer service. They just said my name would be added to the list of customers that have reported the issue and who would be told when they come up with a solution. Nice.


What I don’t not like: health search engines

In Evidence-Based Librarianship on March 10, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , , , ,

If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I am picky. Given the plethora of websites, resources, search engines and ‘time-saving’ tools out there, why not be?  Since I have been politely asked by the folks at AltSearchEngines to give a list of favoured search engines, I am happy to do so below.  I’ve aimed to be realistic as to what my needs are as an information professional–any resource needs to be fairly intuitive to use, reliable, fast, and relevant to the areas of healthcare/social care/ medicine.

Having said all that, and having given it some thought, this is my list of useful search engines/ resources:

Health Search Engines

1. Trip Database

While working on a project to answer doctors’ clinical questions in 15 minutes or less, this was my first point of call, nearly all the time.  It is simple–type in a condition, say, and it pops up a list of result giving you the title, source and year. You can limit into meaningful categories: clinical queries, guidelines (by country), systematic reviews, and e-text books. It has improved over the years by becoming open source and now has more filtering options.

I’ve previously blogged on Trip Answers, a compendium of clinical questions and answers that is searchable.

2. OvidSP Medline

Not a very original or cutting-edge choice. However, it is reliable if you consider the alternatives (Ebsco Cinahl, anyone?).  And fairly user-friendly-you can go behind the scenes and edit your search and last year they introduced a number of changes to allow you to OR or AND by checking boxes, as well as remove search lines right on the live search screen (previously you had to go to another screen to do this). A change that didn’t sit well with me was the decision to put the search history below the text box where you’d enter your search. Perhaps due to several people making a stink about this, it was changed so you can now have the search history either below or above the text box. Options such as saving references, rerunning searches, and creating auto-alerts are generally good. Greater flexibility is needed–I like a big font on my browser and this is poorly accommodated by many websites, including OvidSP (the display area for citations is narrowed by having an Ovid tip box on the right).

3. Intute

Pre-vetted resources by subject-specialists in areas of health, science, tech, social sciences, and arts/ humanities. I like Intute’s brilliant search options: browse by MeSH or by keywords. It is like a happy and fun version of the internet–someone else has already gone ahead and removed the rubbish so you don’t have to wade through it.

4. Cochrane Library

I like nothing better than to have a wallow through a systematic review or two to find inspiration for planning a systematic search.  Thank you, Cochrane, for usually posting the actual search strategies and not just a random spew of keywords in your reviews.  I quite like that the search provides a one-stop shop to: Cochrane reviews, other reviews, clinical trials, health technology assessments, economic evaluations and methods studies. There is an ok but slightly time-consuming-to-use browse by topic functionality.

5. NLH Specialist Libraries

I wouldn’t recommend doing a grey literature search without checking here. It has a good browse functionality (if you have read this far, you may have picked up on the fact I quite appreciate good browse functionality). For instance, you can browse the Cancer Specialist Library by body site of the cancer (lung, breast, upper gastrointestinal, etc.). I would hate to see all this hard work bulldozed by the impending arrival of NHS Evidence, as NLH is not a passing trend.

General Search Engines

1. StumbleUpon

This is very handy for finding blogs or just good websites on a topic–especially if you have an open mind about what it is you might want.  Serendipity is an important element to searching.  I like to stumble by putting in a basic search such as ‘autism blog’ and seeing what I get. I like the quality control option whereby you can say if a link is broken or inappropriate. You can stumble upon WordPress blogs.

2. Kallout

Kallout is a recent addition for me. What I do like is that it integrates with MS Office products. It allows you to do a Google search by simply highlighting a word or words. Other options let you look something up in Wikipedia, YouTube or many other options. I do not love that it runs in the background (taking up valuable memory), but it is the most recent search to excite me, so I’d recommend checking it out.

3.  Cuil

I have been checking this one out lately too, no doubt well after the first yes-men and nay-sayers have sounded off. I like the beauty of the results (the layout is a bit like an encyclopaedia and it brought me back to the hours I used to spend browsing these as a child) and the categories it suggests for each topic. I will have to test this a little more to see how best it can be used. If you search for a specific condition, Cuil brings up researchers on the topic–this could be a great commissioning, fundraising, or research tool.

If there are any search engines that you use and are feeling evangelical about, please let me know and give me reasons why you like them.


Getting our heads around Ebsco Cinahl: The adjacency search is different

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2008 by Danielle Tagged: , , , ,

Thank you to my colleague Rosalind for pointing out this quirk of Ebsco Cinahl to me.  As you may know, Ovid is quite flexible with adjacency searching, allowing more than one option on either side of the ‘adj’ (the adjacency symbol).


(meningococc$ or meningitid$) adj3 (infection? or disease? or septic?emi$).ti,ab

However, in Ebsco Cinahl, this ONE search line would require EIGHT lines to execute.  Yes, you have read that correctly!


(TI “meningococc*” N3 “infection*”) or (AB “meningococc*” N3 “infection*”)

(TI “meningococc*” N3 “disease*”) or (AB “meningococc*” N3 “disease*”)

(TI “meningococc*” N3 “septicemi*”) or (AB “meningococc*” N3 “septicemi*”)

(TI “meningococc*” N3 “septicaemi*”) or (AB “meningococc*” N3 “septicaemi*”)

…and four more for the ‘meningitidis/es’ concept (if you were to truncate to meningitid*).

My interpretation, I think, is fairly generous, as you can see I’ve put both title (TI) and abstract (AB) on one line, whereas many people would split them on two lines apiece. I had previously searched ‘the Ovid way’ but in Ebsco and received over 10,000 hits for a line of an adjacency search–one that garnered me about 200-300 in Ovid.  Thus I found all this out the hard way!

The reason that ‘septic?emi$’ cannot be translated is that we have not found a suitable wildcard symbol in Ebsco that will stand in as an optional one character wildcard (either 0 or 1 characters is present).  In Ovid, the ? fulfills this role.  Ebsco has 2 wildcards: the * is for truncating any number of characters, and ? is for a single character (but acts as an obligatory one character).

Did you notice that each term is encased in quotation marks?  These are very easy to leave out.  In fact, I had forgotten to put them into the example above, and had to go back to do this just now.  In Ebsco Cinahl if you forget them, the search will still run, but with zero hits for that line.  You then need to delete it (or each instance of this mistake if you have goofed several times), and each time a window pops up to ask you if you really want to delete the line.  I recommend you pre-book an appointment with your physiotherapist because there is plenty of clicking needed here and you’ll be at increased risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI).

25 November note: A rep from Ebsco got in touch with me after reading this post to set me straight on a couple of things:

1. There is no need to use double quotation marks around individual words–Hooray!

2. The # is not used as a wildcard nor as a trucation symbol.  Which is good, because it didn’t work!

3. They will take into account a couple of my gripes and see if it is possible to search multiple fields at a time and not have the warning pop-ups for every search line that you delete.


Cinahl: changes are afoot

In Uncategorized on October 2, 2008 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

As you may well know, Cinahl is moving (or has already moved, depending on your perspective) from its Ovid platform to Ebsco. The Krafty Librarian has recently posted on this here. I found the post illuminating and, honestly, quite frightening. The part where she describes how one cannot simply export all references in a search set is absolutely earth-shattering. This is something that I take for granted with the Ovid platform. How could Ebsco not build in this functionality?

If you have seen my post on the Ovid interface (I did a survey on its interface and how users adapt to it) you will know that I have an interest in how interfaces help or hinder the user. I must admit that I have not used Ebsco since about 2005. I do not recall it being particular good or bad. However, I cannot say that I am looking forward to being forced to use it come December (when the switch occurs for us).

The librarians at the Becker Library in the US have created a nice Powerpoint presentation to give users an overview of Cinahl’s new layout and functionality.

If the complicated and sometimes counter-intuitive functionality that the Krafty Librarian describes is a hindrance for many informaticists, then it must be one as well for clinicians, students and laypeople. Perhaps this is an intentional way for information professionals to put up a 3 metre barbed wire fence around our territory? Meaning, if it were simply to search, then who needs us? Just playing devil’s advocate, as part of me thinks that interface designers probably do try to make things intuitive, and midway through designing an interface, throw their arms in the air and give up. Or the board/Executive management intervenes/interferes because they haven’t pleased enough people. Who knows.

Will blog again after I have had the pleasure of using Ebsco Cinahl.


HLG Poster on Ovid SP redesign and how we adapted

In Evidence-Based Librarianship,HLG 2008 on August 15, 2008 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Let me warn you that the following might count as shameless self-promotion. I have caved and uploaded a PDF of a poster that I presented at last month’s Health Libraries Group conference.

The poster reports the results of an online survey I’ve done (in May) to ask the opinion of expert searchers on the (then) recent redesign and relaunch of Ovid SP. My focus was on ease of use, whether a change has had an impact on the user’s search, accuracy, and what users have done, if anything, to adapt to the new interface.

While the survey was successful in reaching plenty of people via email discussion lists (listservs in IS parlance), it was less successful in enticing participants to complete the entire survey. Less than half of participants completed it.

Results were quite heterogeneous–some folks liked the redesign, some stated that the changes had had ‘no impact’ on their searches, but then admitted that the changes were ‘annoying’ and some said that they found the new design more time consuming or that it made poor use of ‘screen real estate’.

Doing the survey has been a fun process that has brought me in touch with informaticists far and wide. It also let me try my luck at condensing some very diverging thoughts on Ovid SP in a meaningful way.

Ovid SP has again changed its configuration as of yesterday, to put the Search History back, to above the text box, where it was in Ovid Gateway. Hopefully, the 31% of folks who ‘accidentally scrolled down instead of up’ when entering lines of their search can now go back to normal. And as for the 53% who ‘have learned to look for it at the top’–it appears to be moveable, so you could move it back to where it is most comfortable.

Reference Manager has moved from the left hand side of the page to right under the limit options–and it can be minimised. Will the folks who look for it at the bottom of the page (where it was in Ovid Gateway) be pleased?

Thank you, all, for your input in the survey. And feel free to let me know how you are getting on with the recent changes to the Search History and Reference Manager. There is also a new multi-field search–but that is asking a bit too much in the way of changing my comfortable habits!

Ovid's new layout-- note the moveable search history box


PDF Poster on Adaptations to the redesign of Ovid SP